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HOT Valentine's get-a-way!

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Offline Cookie

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HOT Valentine's get-a-way!
« on: March 16, 2014, 09:32:45 PM »
Well, since has almost been a month since our trip, I decided I better get this one posted. Me, El Hombre and Hiker headed to the Bend for a 4 night backpacking trip. November of 2012 we had tried to back pack out to Sugar Loaf mountain from Mule Ears parking lot, but were unable to find water and had to head back the next morning. This time we decided to hike in from Homer Wilson and hope Witch Spring had some water for us. We were at the visitors center around noon on the Thursday of Valentine's weekend. The weather was supposed to be highs in the 80's and low's in the 40's. Not too bad for February, maybe a little on the warm side. We were pleasantly surprised by a smooth permit process. Ranger Rob Dean was very helpful and even pulled out a big 3'x3' old school map of all the springs in the Park. He warned us it was going to be pretty warm by Saturday and even hotter on Sunday.

Here was the plan. Park at Homer, hike the Dodson till we were near the backside of Carousel mountain then head south up a drainage towards Witch Spring. We had stopped at Subway that morning and had gotten sandwiches for the first night's meal. It took almost 30 minutes to get 3 breakfast sandwiches and 3 for dinner that night! Next time we will stop at the Subway on the highway and hope to get out of there a bit faster. We had bad timing, as the 3 ladies were making a phone order for 32 foot long subs!

We were on the trail by 2pm and it was a beautiful day! We made it down the drainage for quite a while but had to climb out to go around some thick growth of cat claw and other spiky plants. This slowed us down a bit. We made it up to the saddle and ate ¼ of our sandwich, which hit the spot. On Google earth we could see what looked like an old trail that paralleled the drainage. We were able to pick it up and it made for much easier walking. We started looking for a place to camp for the night, knowing we were not going to make it to the spring that day. We found a good spot that was fairly flat to set up for the night. There was even a nice outcropping of rocks to enjoy the sunset from.



 







Second Day:


The next day we were heading for Witch spring. We had not come across any water yet, and if we weren't able to find any again, it would force us to hike out and come up with a plan B for the rest of our trip. Just above Nunca Spring, El Hombre and Hiker headed up to check out the canyon. There was one small hole that had some water where animals had obviously dug it out.  Water could be pumped out in an emergency.  Further up (not as far as Red Peak Spring) there was a small hole on the wall of a pour-off full of bees. It was an indication of how much water was available in the area. 

       We hiked back down the drainage, past Nunca (dry) and continued until we hit Smokey Creek Trail.






 

We headed east on the trial over the saddle, and dropped back into the drainage. From there, we made our way to Witch spring. We found one spot in the lower canyon with a small pool of water under a ledge. El Hombre checked the rest of the way up the canyon where the spring is marked on the map, but it was dry. It took us about 20 minutes to fill up 3 gallons, good enough to keep us from having to go back that night.



small pool was under the left part of this rock


We set up base camp and enjoyed a beautiful evening under the stars cowboy camping. We only packed one tent, for hiker, and she wanted to cowboy camp too.

Once we set up camp, we pulled out our new summit day packs.  Elhombre had his fancy Hyperlite mountain gear pack (14 oz), and Hiker and I had our new REI ultra light packs (15 oz).  We hiked   down the main drainage east of Sugar loaf to the dramatic canyon we saw when we stayed near Mule Ears. It was a bit warm, and the shade of the canyon was welcome. We followed the canyon till we hit  the big pour off and had lunch.





(ever wonder where those balloons go??)
 



After chilling in the shade, we headed back to camp and our little spring for more water.  Another great night under the stars. The next day would be our big hike.

moon set over Sugar Loaf


Our plan was to tackle the long ridge SE of Sugar Loaf.  It is a prominent feature seen from the south rim.  Ever since our Valentines trip 4years ago when we hiked to Fisk, we wanted to run the upper ridge all the way and look down into Fisk Canyon.
view of the ridge from day 1


our route to the top from the creek below:


We knew it was going to be warm again. The climb up was very steep, with some big scree sections, but the views from on top were worth it. We enjoyed a leisure lunch on top, but could see we were not going to be able to make it over to the Fisk canyon side on this trip. Just too hot to take it on.











 







We wanted to get down with enough time to get to the spring and grab some more water. We had some fun scree sliding on the way down and scrubbed off lots of elevation in minutes. This was Hiker's favorite part.



When we got back down to the creek, it was 104 degrees on our wrist watch!

The only other water we saw was in this tinaja...I would have to be really thirsty :icon_eek:



a closer look...


  Once the sun started to go down it was not too bad, but the temps convinced us to head back a day early because the tomorrow's forecast was for the warmest day yet. We had planned to tackle Sugar Loaf but this would have to wait for our next trip.

The hike out the next day wasn't too bad, but we had gone through all our Gatorade powder, and it was getting HOT by noon. We tried going over the saddle to avoid back tracking Smokey Creek trail. It was the usual off trail hiking and felt like it cut off some time.  Using the old trail made it a nice walk back to the Dodson proper.  The return hike was faster because we were able to stay on it instead of walking in the creek. 

 

Only once did we have to bust through the cat claw to get back into the creek bed.  We were very happy to be off the trail by 1:15, and heading to the Lodge for cheeseburgers.



After a huge burger, we went to change our permit and back country camp for our last night in the park. We were hoping for “Chilicotal” or “Twisted Shoe” since we had not stayed at either of these. Everything was taken off Glenn Springs Rd. except for 3 spots. We opted for Robbers Roost, hoping it wouldn't be overrun with Kangaroo rats and critters (since we were cowboy camping).

After the permit change, we made a run for the border and the hot springs.  We walked up and were greeted by 15+ others bathing in the springs.  An audible was called, and we continued down to the second springs.  The bamboo is finally encircling the  pool.  It is a bit smaller and full of mud, but it does look like it may make a comeback some day.  We walked down to the river from there and enjoyed the cold water with our feet dug into the hot rocks of the creek bed.

At Robber's Roost, we hadn't been there 5 minutes unpacking our stuff when a huge Kangaroo rat came hopping up to us with no fear, heading straight for our backpacks. The rest of the evening was spent trying to keep the rat out of our stuff. It was very obvious he was used to people and was looking for food. At least Hiker got in a few good rock throws and he seemd to get the message.

 

We were up the next morning at sunrise, packed up, ready to head home and get ready for work and school.

A nice getaway for Valentine's weekend, even if it was a bit on the HOT side. Just goes to show you never know what the weather in Texas will be like. Once again Big Bend did not disappoint!

~Cookie

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Offline RichardM

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Re: HOT Valentine's get-a-way!
« Reply #1 on: March 16, 2014, 10:27:54 PM »
Awesome reports and pictures (although I was hoping for a pic of the kangaroo rat).

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Offline trtlrock

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Re: HOT Valentine's get-a-way!
« Reply #2 on: March 16, 2014, 11:15:11 PM »
Nice trip report.
John & Tess

"...and I'll face each day with a smile, for the time that I've been given's such a little while..." - Arthur Lee

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Offline Homer Wilson

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Re: HOT Valentine's get-a-way!
« Reply #3 on: March 16, 2014, 11:51:38 PM »
Oh, that kind of hot.  Looks awesome, and thanks for the very thorough report!

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Offline mule ears

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Re: HOT Valentine's get-a-way!
« Reply #4 on: March 17, 2014, 06:49:01 AM »
That elhombre, he really knows how to show a girl a good time on Valentines Day!   ;)

Too bad it was so hot, would have liked to see more pictures from up on that ridge.  Did it look like you could run the whole thing?

I love it that Hiker is cowboy camping too.  Thanks for the report.
temperatures exceed 100 degrees F
minimum 1 gallon water per person/day
no shade, no water
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Online steelfrog

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Re: HOT Valentine's get-a-way!
« Reply #5 on: March 17, 2014, 09:53:27 AM »
Awesome TR and trip Cookie!

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Offline Lance

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Re: HOT Valentine's get-a-way!
« Reply #6 on: March 17, 2014, 04:14:19 PM »
Great trip report and pictures! Y'all always take the neatest treks!
I want to hike that ridge all the way to Jack's Pass and down to Dominguez Spring.
Question, in this photo, the peak just right of Elephant Tusk is Pt 5386.
Does it look climbable from that vantage point?



Here's a front side shot of Pt 5386 from Fisk Canyon.


PS. give Hiker a high-five for me!
« Last Edit: December 25, 2016, 10:28:30 PM by Lance »

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Offline elhombre

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Re: HOT Valentine's get-a-way!
« Reply #7 on: March 17, 2014, 09:01:13 PM »
Great trip report and pictures! Y'all always take the neatest treks!
I want to hike that ridge all the way to Jack's Pass and down to Dominguez Spring.
Question, in this photo, the peak just right of Elephant Tusk is Pt 5386.
Does it look climbable from that vantage point?



Here's a front side shot of Pt 5386 from Fisk Canyon.


PS. give Hiker a high-five for me   :13:

That peak was going to be our goal, but the drop to the rocky ridge was deep, then the ridge itself look like it would take some time with Hiker in tow.  Beyond that, the ridge dropped again out of sight, so it didn't take much to decide to head back.  It sure looked like it could be done.  Next time we will head directly to it.  Your picture shows the gulley I would try next time. 

It was suprising to me just how big that ridge is as it ran east to the point in question, then south to Jacks Pass.  It would be one fine ridge run to base camp in Fisk, and do as you suggest.

That elhombre, he really knows how to show a girl a good time on Valentines Day!   ;)


Yea, Cookie is one lucky lady..... ;)
For 2 years the Fake News Media, Obama's FBI, CIA & DOJ, and Swamp dwelling Politicians COLLUDED, Illegally Spied,and LIED to America about POTUS in order to overturn an election

All the while demanding censorship and removal of opposition Conservative "hate speech" voices.  Globalists Hate Freedom

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Online steelfrog

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Re: HOT Valentine's get-a-way!
« Reply #8 on: March 17, 2014, 09:27:43 PM »
Soo--you're saying Hiker doesn't kick y'all's butts?  Riiiiight...

Are we talking about Skullmakers Ridge here folks?

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Offline Lance

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Re: HOT Valentine's get-a-way!
« Reply #9 on: March 17, 2014, 09:28:39 PM »

Soo--you're saying Hiker doesn't kick y'all's butts?  Riiiiight...

Are we talking about Skullmakers Ridge here folks?

Yes that was the name that we were calling it.

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Offline Robert

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Re: HOT Valentine's get-a-way!
« Reply #10 on: March 17, 2014, 09:32:19 PM »
Thanks elhombre, great report and pictures. Funny how that trail is so pronounced for a good distance and then peters out as you approach the Dodson. That route from Dodson over to Smoky was always on my radar (but I wasn't aware of the "trail"), glad you got to hike it.

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Offline Reece

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Re: HOT Valentine's get-a-way!
« Reply #11 on: March 18, 2014, 10:26:19 AM »
Very nice, you guys. Sorry you always have to find the litter.
One question - what's the rule? Do we pick it up or leave it? I left a shirt I ran across on ET trail. I'd be hard pressed to pick up someone else's toilet paper. Thankfully I've never seen that. The balloon streamers I might pack out. How do you guys handle it?

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Offline catz

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Re: HOT Valentine's get-a-way!
« Reply #12 on: March 18, 2014, 12:00:16 PM »
I generally pick up stuff but I do draw the line at TP.
Wake me when it's time to go.

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Offline elhombre

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Re: HOT Valentine's get-a-way!
« Reply #13 on: March 18, 2014, 08:52:44 PM »
We did pack the balloon trash out.  I don't touch the TP either unless I can dig a quick hole and scoot it in with the shovel.  Best part of the Quemadas is that it is still pretty clean. 

Nothing like your little girl watching you to help motivate a person to do the right thing.
For 2 years the Fake News Media, Obama's FBI, CIA & DOJ, and Swamp dwelling Politicians COLLUDED, Illegally Spied,and LIED to America about POTUS in order to overturn an election

All the while demanding censorship and removal of opposition Conservative "hate speech" voices.  Globalists Hate Freedom

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Offline Picacho

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Re: HOT Valentine's get-a-way!
« Reply #14 on: March 18, 2014, 11:21:55 PM »
Pt. 5386 is almost certainly doable.  I did something similar a few years ago and traversed from Pt. 5200 to Pt. 5600.  Ran out of time so I didn't do Pt. 5386 but I got a fuzzy zoom of it.  Crappy camera at the time and the smog was bad.  Pt. 5386 is the start of Skullmakers Ridge and it runs south. 

 


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